Critical Stages Touring Wins the 2019 Drover Touring Legend Award

Critical Stages Touring, Australia’s national touring theatre company, has been honoured with the prestigious Touring Legend Award at the 2019 PACA (Performing Arts Connections Australia) Drover Awards.

The Drover Awards recognise excellence in the field of regional touring. There are three award categories: Tour of the Year, Performing Arts Centre of the Year, and Touring Legend.

The Touring Legend Award recognises an outstanding contribution to performing arts touring in Australia, and is determined by expert industry professionals sitting on the PAC Australia Board of Management. It recognises Critical Stages’ ongoing commitment and success in delivering outstanding independent theatre and performances to the millions of Australians who live in regional locations.

Established in 2003, Critical Stages Touring’s goal is to make great Australian live theatre accessible to audiences everywhere. Over the last 16 years, the company has supported artists’ ambitions to take their work beyond metropolitan borders, and the regional presenters to foster a love of local live performance in their communities.

In 2019 alone, Critical Stages Touring has toured 7 productions to over 100 different towns, cities and communities in Australia, New Zealand and China.

Helen O’Neil, President of PAC Australia said “the board has recognised the major role Critical Stages plays in the touring landscape in Australia; not just in supporting producers and artists and delivering high quality work to stages across Australia, but also their commitment to improving the way touring happens in Australia now and into the future.”

Critical Stages Touring CEO Chris Bendall accepted the award at the annual PACA conference, held this year in Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast.

“Thank you so much to Helen O’Neill, and to the whole Board of PAC, for acknowledging the work we do and have been doing for the past 16 years.” Chris said, “this award is testament to the hard work that the whole marvelous Critical Stages Touring team share, our belief in supporting fabulous artists, and the commitment we have to connecting presenters and audiences everywhere with outstanding theatrical experiences.”

Next Indy Theatre Forum – Second Life in The Indy Sector – 8th Aug 2019

Two people are seated on bar stools in front of a small audience who are seated on cafe chairs.

We’re taking the Indy Theatre Forum West to Riverside Theatres!

Where do you go after a run has finished? How do we think beyond our premiere season to plan a future for our work?

Join us in Parramatta for a conversation with industry experts, independent artists and producers about how to give your production a second life. Looking into and beyond touring, we’ll be talking about the opportunities that are out there to bring back your show once the lights have gone out and it’s all bumped out and packed away.

Find out who can help you get the show back on its feet, where you could take it, and what advantages there are creatively to revisiting and redeveloping your work with return seasons.

Following the forum, join us for a performance of Still Life With Chickens, by D. F. Mamea, produced by Auckland Theatre Company. Riverside Theatres have generously created a forum discount of just $30 per ticket to the show (the forum is still free), redeemed with a discount code that will be sent to you with confirmation of your registration. Please book your tickets as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

Special Guest Speakers TBA

DATE: Thursday 8th August 2019
TIME: Arrive at 6pm for networking drinks, Forum 6.30-7.30pm
OPTIONAL: Performance of Still Life with Chickens, starts 7.45pm
VENUE: Riverside Theatres, Parramatta, Corner of Church and Market Streets, Parramatta
RESERVE YOUR SEAT Via the Riverside Theatre booking page

Help Us Take Great Theatre To Communities Everywhere this EOFY

You may not know that Critical Stages is in fact a not-for-profit charity. We’re very small but we do a lot, supporting artists and audiences around Australia all year. In 2019, we are producing 7 Australian tours to 100 locations with 165 performances engaging over 60 artists and tens of thousands of people attending a great independent production they may not have had access to without us. All this and our small core team is super lean (just 3.0 FTE). We’re a true not for profit spending all we can (and more) on our artists, because we love what we do.

Each year our artists travel from Bundaberg to Bunbury and beyond, and this year we’re also heading international and visiting New Zealand and China. All this before our ambitious 2020 season arrives with no less than 10 incredible new productions hitting the road.

That’s why this EOFY we’re asking if you’d be willing to support our work with a tax-deductible donation.

Your contribution ensures our ability to support the outstanding independent artists you love to tour their shows to new audiences, and you’ll also be helping us contribute to a stronger national theatre industry through our work representing artists and producers at industry events and markets, and through vital programs such as our artist residencies and independent theatre forums.

We know there are many, many other important causes to support at this time of year, but if you can remember us too that would mean a lot to our small team, our artists and the communities we work so hard to bring great theatre to. Please consider a donation before 30 June.

In return, we promise to keep doing what we’re doing, and keep doing it better all the time.

You can support us today via our Paypal Giving page at

Or click over to and download the donation form.

Critical Stages Touring Welcomes New Directors

Critical Stages Touring welcomes two new members to our board of directors this month. They join a group of passionate arts, business and theatre leaders that will help steer the organisation into its next phase of producing and touring outstanding independent theatre across Australia.

Joining the board are:

  • Pearl Tan – Senior Lecturer in Directing (AFTRS) & Founder and Director of Pearly Productions.
  • Joel McGuiness – Chief Executive Officer, Geelong Performing Arts Centre

Former Treasurer Mark Thomas moves into the Chair position and is excited by the challenge of helming the board of Australia’s leading independent theatre tourer. “I am delighted to be given the opportunity to lead the board of Critical Stages Touring as it expands throughout Australia and offshore later this year, and as we grow our offer into 2020, ensuring that more people will get the chance to enjoy excellent Australian theatrical productions.”

Pearl Tan and Joel McGuiness replace outgoing members Anne Marie-Heath and former Chair Keith Irving who are leaving the board after six years of dedicated service. Chris Drummond, Artistic Director of Brink Productions in South Australia, steps into the role of Deputy Chair.

The Critical Stages Touring team is planning its most ambitious season yet for 2020 which will include ten new theatrical works travelling across Australia and New Zealand, artist and producer residencies, industry forums, and advocacy and representation at arts markets both domestic and international, taking Australian work to more communities than ever before.

Thomas notes, “I would like to thank Keith Irving for his excellent leadership over the last 12 months, and Anne-Marie Heath for her contribution over the years. Critical Stages Touring would not be in the strong position it is today without the contribution from Keith and Anne-Marie”.

CEO and Director, Chris Bendall welcomed the new appointments, and said, “We are in a very exciting phase of growth right now, working with some truly outstanding independent artists from around Australia, and an ever-increasing appetite for great theatre from presenters and audiences. I’m very pleased to have such strong support from our Board and all our strategic partners to help us achieve our goals over the coming years.”

The 2019/2020 board of Critical Stages Touring is now comprised of:

  • Mark Thomas (Chair) (Sydney, NSW)
  • Rohan Astley (Melbourne, VIC)
  • Chris Drummond (Adelaide, SA)
  • Alyce Fisher (Albury, NSW)
  • Patricia Gilligan (Sydney, NSW)
  • Joel McGuiness (Geelong, VIC)
  • Pearl Tan (Sydney, NSW)

For more information please contact Critical Stages Touring.

Introducing Critical Stages Touring

Today, we are thrilled to launch the new Critical Stages Touring brand with a beautiful new logo to complement our bold new name!

As we approach our 15th year of supporting artists and audiences across Australia, we decided it was time for a change. Since 2005, the company has partnered with presenters and artists to develop a strong and ambitious pool of outstanding independent productions engaging audiences from Bundaberg to Bunbury and beyond.

Critical Stages Touring aims to be a leader in national touring, outstanding independent theatre, and audience development – creating original experiences and connecting communities across the country.

new look, renewed vision

With our new logo and name we hope to show presenters, producers and the public the full breadth of what we do in our sector.

We broker relationships, connecting artists with presenters – whether they be festivals, small or large performing arts venues, or a much-loved community hall. We bring people together to create unforgettable experiences. We support our artists’ ambitions to breathe new life into their work and build sustainable practices, and we help our presenters foster a love and passion for the performing arts in their local audiences.

Through forums, mentorship and residencies, we also work closely with industry to provide opportunities to exchange ideas, start and continue vital conversations, build skills and resilience, and establish networks across the performing arts spectrum.

Critical Stages Touring will continue to contribute to a strong, inter-connected, healthy, diverse and vibrant theatre culture.

so much to celebrate

Between 2016 and 2018 Critical Stages had it’s most successful seasons to date, entertaining over 55,000 ticket holders. This year, we’ll tour 7 amazing productions to an estimated 100 locations for 165 performances, and engage over 60 artists to play to an estimate of over 23,500 patrons.

We have an exciting year ahead and are planning for a bright future supporting the performing arts in Australia, and we look forward to working with you on this next phase of our journey.

Very best wishes,
Chris Bendall
Director & CEO

Support Critical Stages – End of Financial Year Appeal

Its that time of year again, as we approach the End of Financial Year, when we put out the hat and ask for your support. Please help the outstanding independent artists you love to tour their shows to audiences right around Australia. Each dollar you give helps us travel further and bring theatre to audiences everywhere!

Therese Raquin has commenced its tour around Australia!

Our tour of the stunning Therese Raquin, co-produced with Melbourne’s Dirty Pretty Theatre, has begun its National Tour with wonderful performances in Melbounre and Bathurst. This is a thrilling new adaptation of Emile Zola’s landmark novel by director/writer Gary Abrahams, from one of Melbourne’s most exciting independent companies. With Jessica Clarke compelling in the title role and an absolutely beautiful production design this is a must-see production.

Heading next to Wollongong, Port Macquarie, Brisbane, Alice Springs, Darwin, Werribee, Nunawading, Penrtih and Wagga Wagga. Full tour dates are here!

Happy Holidays!

The team at Critical Stages are signing off for the year!

A BIG Christmas high-five to all the artists and audiences that made 2016 a MONSTER year with…

142 Performances, 73 artists on the road, 71 venues visited, 54 hire cars, 9 tour vans, 6 states (plus 2 territories), 3 indy forums, 1 perpetually broken snow dropper (Shane?!), a swish new office, a trip to New Zealand and over 24,000 punters through the doors!!!

Ho. Ho. Ho.

See you next year folks. We will be back in the office on the 9th January 2017 when we will also be welcoming Melanie Carolan to the team for yet more touring!!!

Otto and Astrid getting ready to kick off their national tour!

We are very excited about our next major national tour for the year. Otto and Astird are getting ready to tour Australia with their show SUPERMUSICIAN. They kick off their trip on 21 & 22 September at Gasworks in Melbourne, then travel right around the country rocking a strom everywhere from Mackay to to Margaret River! Fans of Spinal Tap say Hallo to your new favourite band!

Otto & Astrid (Die Roten Punkte) are Berlin’s Prince and Princess of art rock and Europop. Following sell-out shows in New York, Sydney and Edinburgh, dysfunctional siblings are touring Australia, taking in the whole country from Mackay in far north Queensland to Mandurah in southern Western Australia.

Since their last Australian tour Otto & Astrid have toured across Europe with Amanda Palmer, had a smash run at the Soho Theatre in London and sold out shows in Belgium, Ireland, UK, USA, Germany, Canada, New Zealand, Hungary, Poland and Italy. The duo have also won yet ANOTHER coveted Melbourne Green Room Award for Best Production, Cabaret.

Orphaned as teenagers, Astrid and Otto found themselves homeless in Berlin before they dived into a rock baptism by fire (started by one of Astrid’s cigarettes) that catapulted them into European stardom.

Otto and Astrid are thrilled to be heading out on tour to regional Australia: “We are super excited to be bringing our rock and roll concerts to parts of Australia that we’ve never been to before.”

A lipstick-smeared, tantrum-loving, sonic collision between the B52s, Kraftwerk and the early Ramones, Die Roten Punkte are truly one of a kind. Astrid’s avant-garde style and legendary antics inspire both reverence and fear, while Otto’s dynamic stage presence brings to mind a whirling dervish on meth.

Otto & Astrid bring you one of the most irreverent and funny gigs you are ever likely to see.

★★★★★ Orgasmic rock-und-roll experience.” Monday Magazine, Canada

★★★★ “Pitch-perfect pop parody” The Scotsman, UK

★★★★★ “Wild cabaret rock!” Herald Sun, Australia

★★★★★ “ All you really need to know is this: they’re hilarious.” CBC Canada

★★★★★ “The perfect musical comedy act – it should not be missed” – Broadway Baby, UK


WINNER 2014 & 2008 Melbourne Green Room Awards. Best Cabaret nominees TO&ST (Time Out & Soho Theatre) Edinburgh 2013, Winner Best Comedy Montreal and Victoria Fringe 2010, Best Production Montreal Fringe, 2008; Most Outstanding Production Ottawa Fringe, 2008; Best in Fest Winnipeg Fringe, 2008 and Best Comedy Victoria Fringe, 2008.